We Need a Better Way to Visualize People’s Skills

Source | Harvard Business Review : By Michelle Weise

By 2020, the US economy is expected to create 55 million job openings: 24 million of these will be entirely new positions. And 48 percent of the new jobs, according to Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, will emphasize a mix of hard and soft intellectual skills, like active listening, leadership, communication, analytics, and administration competencies.

How can companies get a better idea of which skills employees and job candidates have? While university degrees and grades have done that job for a long time, they’ve done it imperfectly. In today’s rapidly evolving knowledge economy, badges, nanodegrees, and certificates have aimed to bridge the gap – but also leave a lot to be desired. While HR departments are eager for better “people analytics,” that concept is still fuzzy. And simply collecting data is not enough – to be used, data has to be presented usefully.

One potential model is GitHub. GitHub is a social networking site for web developers to collaborate on open-source code management. It’s a way for developers to display their revisions of public repositories of code. Anyone in tech will recognize this grid as a GitHub profile. The darker the green, the more a person has contributed to the platform.

Imagine having a profile like this for other competencies. An employer could immediately see the depth of a candidate’s profile in different areas—both her foundational skills as well as her other technical skillsets. What if we could click on that darker colored square in the grid and immediately view artifacts from the candidate’s past experiences that best illustrate that competency? Or, in other cases, we might see that a company or institution validated that particular competency. A profile of competencies with the visual impact of a GitHub profile would make immediately clear to employers a candidate’s capacity and potential. At the same time, each person would similarly be able to identify his or her own skills gaps that need to be filled.

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